This is a holiday-shortened trading week, but it's not going to be a quiet one. Earnings season is here, and the first wave of quarterly reports is washing up on shore.

But rather than Hang Ten, I chose to hang seven -- as in singling out seven bellwethers that analysts see posting lower quarterly profits this week.

I have to be fair, though. Some companies are going the wrong way, but plenty of other public companies are finding ways to grow in this tough environment.

I was a pessimist on Friday. Now it's my turn to be the optimist. Here are seven companies that analysts see posting healthier bottom lines this week.


Latest Quarter's EPS (Estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter's EPS




Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)



Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)



Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS)






Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG)



McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top. IBM is a name that many still associate with its old-school computers, but the company has evolved over the years into a well-rounded provider of business services. IBM has managed to grow during the recession and has found ways to appeal to cash-conscious companies, by telling them that they need to spend a little money to make a lot of money.

Starbucks has been shuttering stores and reinventing itself. This usually isn't a recipe for overnight success, but the barista baron is making it work. If analysts are on target, this will be the third consecutive quarter during which Starbucks posts year-over-year growth on the bottom line.

Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs are financial-services juggernauts. They're not the same, of course. Wells Fargo is more in the mold of a traditional banker, while Goldman Sachs has made its name on the investment banking side.

Google has been in the news a lot lately. Just last week, the world's leading search engine made headlines in several different ways.

The week before that, it was the Nexus One smartphone rollout. Naturally, Google's quarterly report this week will only cover its performance through the end of December, but it's bound to be a lively conference call anyway. In the meantime, analysts see earnings growing by 27% to $6.43 for the quarter, good enough to buck the advertising weakness elsewhere.

Intuitive Surgical is the company behind the da Vinci robotic arm that is revolutionizing the operating table. Procedures go more smoothly, and real surgeons are less fatigued, once Intuitive Surgical enters the picture with its high-tech gadgetry. There were concerns that hospitals would cut back on big-ticket expenditures until the health-care reform picture becomes clearer, but Intuitive Surgical robotics make sense no matter which way sentiment shifts.

Finally, we have McDonald's. The world's largest restaurant chain has been feasting through the recession. Its barbell pricing approach of having buck-priced eats on its Dollar Menu on one end and premium-priced salads and chicken-breast products on the other is working. Its recent move to turn Big Mac sandwiches into snack wraps is a surprisingly tasty turn.

Cross those fingers, but know the fundamentals
These aren't the only companies expected to post year-over-year gains this week. Several companies have either found ways to grow during the recession or have simply cut enough corners to show improvement on the bottom line.

This doesn't mean that investors can rest easy. The bad news is that these companies are expected to post improving results. The optimism is already baked into their share prices, so it's easier for them to slip. But why begin worrying about the companies that we aren't supposed to be worrying about?

If analysts are doing a good job modeling their profit targets, we'll be just fine.

Some other reads to get you through the week:

Google and Intuitive Surgical are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. It will give you one less reason to worry about this week.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz prefers to look at the bright side of life -- and strife. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.